Devotional: ‘Hanukkah and the Menorah’

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menorah

Within Jewish culture there is a beautiful golden candlestick known as the menorah. (The word menorah means candlestick) If you know anything about the holiday of Hanukkah, you know that the menorah is central in its celebration.

Immediately after the Maccabees’ victory over the Grecians, Judah Maccabees and his brothers went to Jerusalem for the purpose of reestablishing worship in the temple. When they arrived they found the temple and surrounding courtyards in ruin. Antiochus Epiphanes and his people had desecrated it every way imaginable. Heartbroken over what they saw, they fell on their faces and wept. Then Judah and his brothers began the process of cleansing and restoration.

They encouraged the priests who had remained faithful to begin preparing themselves again for serving. Judah and his brothers removed the altar that the gentiles had defiled and rebuilt a new one. They cleansed the temple of all trash and they remade the sacred vessels.

When it came to relighting the golden candlestick known as the menorah, they discovered that there was only enough oil left to last for one night and it would take a week to make more. What should they do? Some say they took the one day’s worth of oil and divided it by eight. Others say that they filled the candelabra with all the oil at once. Either way a miracle would be needed for the menorah to remain burning for a week. Jewish tradition says that the one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days.

Thus we have the Jewish holiday known as Hanukkah (Chanukah). Each year Jewish families celebrate this miracle by lighting one candle a night for eight nights.

Though as Christians we are not commanded to celebrate any of the Jewish holidays or festivals, perhaps it would do us well to carefully consider how they help lay the foundation of our faith.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) 

Just as the Lord provided oil for the menorah, so will He provide us strength to be His witnesses.

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